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A spinout company from our Department, OxSight, has reported that in a recent UK-wide trial its smart glasses helped sight impaired and blind people to navigate independently, avoid collisions and see in the dark.

The technology was developed in our Department by visual prosthetics researcher Dr Stephen Hicks with support from the Oxford Eye Hospital. Hicks’ team used their understanding of how the brain interprets visual information to develop algorithms that replicate our natural visual interpretation process.

Behind these glasses is ten years of work developing a real-time computer vision algorithm that mimics some of the basic components of human visual perception. The algorithm detects the distance to nearby objects and forms a depth-map which is then enhanced and displayed on the inside of a pair of glasses. It highlights edges and features which make many objects easier to see, especially in low light where many people struggle.
-  Dr Stephen Hicks

The OxSight smart glasses use a unique camera system and computer vision algorithms to detect and highlight objects, separating them from the background in real-time. This allows people with even the lowest amount of sight make better use of their vision in challenging everyday scenarios.

Participants in the trial reported that they were able to describe people standing several meters away and in some cases even recognise their faces and expressions.

OxSight has successfully raised a seed funding round from Oxford angel investor Mr Zhang Jiangong. The company will use the funding to continue to develop the smart glasses. Existing partners include Google, the Royal National Institute of Blind People, the University of Oxford, the NIHR i4i scheme, the Royal Academy of Engineering and Oxford University Innovation. Both Mr Zhang and RTC Innovation, a UK-based technology transfer company have provided valuable support to OxSight over the last 3 years.

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